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Joe Buettner | The Norman Transcript | February 13, 2019

Oklahoma softball starts strong, ready for shot at Florida State

A Gardner-Webb triple play headlines this week's softball top plays

NORMAN, OK. -- It's a bit quieter around the Oklahoma softball team this season.

Coach Patty Gasso is adjusting to an influx of freshmen and newcomers, who are still getting comfortable with being vocal and learning the way Gasso wants them to play.

On the field, Oklahoma looks like it's picking up where it left off from last year's Women's College World Series team after it ran through the GCU Kickoff Tournament in Phoenix last weekend.

SOFTBALL: Stats | Rankings | Scoreboard

"I thought we came out a little bit slow offensively, but our pitchers made up for that by just having a pretty dominating performance," Gasso said. "Very pleased with our start, then the offense started kicking on Saturday and Sunday. So, I felt pretty good about the way we left."

Gasso admits the level of competition her group faced in Phoenix won't be the same, however, as when the Sooners play in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational this weekend (Feb. 14-16).

SCHEDULE: Dates and times for the 2019 Women's College World Series 

"I think we got a good feel this last week, but it certainly was not as heavy as what we're about to walk in to," Gasso said. "So, I guess we'll find out really how good we think we are after this next weekend. You can go 5-0 against those teams and crank up a big batting average and pitchers with big strikeout numbers, but this is going to be a really good test."

Facing the champs

Oklahoma will get a shot at defending Women's College World Series champions and top-ranked Florida State on Friday.

The Sooners have been the early-season target in previous years as the 2016 and 2017 national champions. Gasso's team will now have the opportunity to make an early statement when it plays the Seminoles during their trip to Florida.

SOFTBALL STORIES: 16 year-old with cerebral palsy joins Pitt | Mo'ne Davis to play at Hampton

"I think there's something a little exciting about playing the defending national champions, which is new to us, because we were always it for the last two years," Gasso said. "I think [my team is] fired up for that. I think it's just a good gauge for where we are and what we need to do get better.

"We're looking forward to this weekend. It's going to be tough."

Pitcher of the Week

Oklahoma junior Mariah Lopez was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week for her opening weekend efforts.

Lopez went 2-0 in starts vs. Syracuse on Friday Feb. 8 and Charlotte on Saturday Feb. 9 at the GCU Kickoff Tournament.

LAST WEEK: 3 no-hitters highlighted start of 2019 season | What went down opening weekend

She threw a one-hitter in both games and struck out 12 batters vs. Syracuse and 10 vs. Charlotte in a combined 12.0 innings pitched.

Lopez's latest Big 12 Pitcher of the Week award is her first since her freshman season.

Climbing the polls

Oklahoma moved up from No. 4 to No. 3 in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 rankings.

The Sooners started the season as the No. 4-ranked team by both polls.

Oklahoma also received a first-place vote in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 for its 5-0 start to the season.

This article is written by Joe Buettner from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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